For the first 30 minutes of the film, several times I thought of getting up and leaving the theater. I have done this before, when a movie gets so boring or devoid of value on every level for me that it seems a waste of my life. The emphasis in the first half of the film is on an almost documentary lack of cinematic flair. But each time I thought of getting up and leaving, the next scene kept me hooked. George Clooney plays Matt King, an attorney and a descendant, along with his cousins, of King Kamehameha, in Hawaii. The family owns a huge piece of prime beach front property in the island “paradise.” In the opening shot, Matt’s wife is shown waterskiing in Waikiki, close-up on her face. She gets into an accident and ends up in a coma in the hospital. Essentially, the movie is about the relationship between Matt and his wife, and between Matt and his two girls, and his older girl’s hilariously socially inappropriate boyfriend. Also, the film is about some things in his wife’s life that Matt discovers once she is in the coma. A “missing character” film, you can practically imagine his wife through the descriptions of the other characters. The film is worthwhile because of how the third act comes together. (As a side note, the use of Morgan Freeman’s voice at the end, which along with the beach and ocean scenes, (unconsciously?) evokes the ending of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.) There is one scene, one line by Clooney to his wife in the coma, that for me is the heart of the film. I think all along we have misjudged this man, Matt King, and we can see that because of what he says, and the deeply emotional and nuanced way in which¬†he says it, in this scene. This movie is a meditation on life, family relations, money, love, forgiveness and the values that truly sustain generations in a family. 8 out of ten stars.

Curtis Smale